Nearly 20 travel agencies from rival fair rejoin Natas

For consumers, the return of several travel agents will mean a bigger show this year at the Natas fair from Feb 17 to 19.
For consumers, the return of several travel agents will mean a bigger show this year at the Natas fair from Feb 17 to 19.ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

Close to 20 travel agencies, which were part of a faction that set up its own association and travel fair, have now made up with travel agents' association Natas.

The agencies, including big players such as Dynasty Travel and CTC Travel, will participate in the Natas fair next month instead of rival fair Travel Revolution.

For consumers, this will mean a bigger show of travel agencies at the Natas fair, which will be held from Feb 17 to 19 at Singapore Expo Hall 4.

Issues that caused the rift, including high rents, a lack of say in how the fair was organised, and transparency on how profits from the fair were used, have been addressed for the upcoming fair, said the National Association of Travel Agents Singapore (Natas).

"With these agents coming back for the 50th anniversary, I feel that it is a big thing," Mr Steven Ler, deputy president of Natas, told The Straits Times yesterday.

A new organising committee, made up of 10 travel firms - half of which had defected from Travel Revolution - will make the majority of decisions related to the fair. Previously, the fair was organised by Natas executive committee members who were not necessarily exhibitors.

Natas said it had explained to agencies that profits from the fairs go into advertising subsidies and discounts for repeat exhibitors.

Agencies returning to the Natas fair next month after the two- year-long spat include Super Travels, Hong Thai Travel and New Shan Travel.

Hong Thai senior marketing manager Stella Chow said: "The rental is lower and the majority of Travel Revolution exhibitors are going back to Natas.

"Based on our experience, the mix of exhibitors is more important to consumers than the location of the fair."

Despite many travel agencies moving back to the Natas fair, big players such as Chan Brothers Travel, SA Tours and Apple Holidays will continue to take part in Travel Revolution. It will be held at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre from Feb 24 to 26.

The Singapore Outbound Travel Agents Association (Sotaa), which runs Travel Revolution, said it will carry on with the fair as it has a two-year contract with venue Marina Bay Sands.

But with just 11 agencies taking part, the fair will be downsized from three halls to two halls.

Sotaa president Kay Swee Pin, who is managing director of SA Tours, said she had met Natas last September to discuss a joint fair. "For the sake of the industry, we were happy to do so," she said.

However, the discussions did not work out in the end.

A spokesman for Chan Brothers said it was sticking to Travel Revolution because of the better venue and Sotaa's proven track record in managing the past four fairs, among other reasons.

The Travel Revolution fair attracted 82,000 visitors over three days in February last year, while the Natas fair last March drew 58,000.

Visitors enjoy free admission to both fairs.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 06, 2017, with the headline 'Nearly 20 travel agencies from rival fair rejoin Natas'. Print Edition | Subscribe